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Head of Nigeria’s legislature comes under probe in Seychelles-Report

Authorities in Seychelles have opened a criminal investigation into the multi-million dollar assets which Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife, Toyin, are believed to hold through offshore shell companies in tax havens, PREMIUM TIMES can report

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Authorities in Seychelles have opened a criminal investigation into the multi-million dollar assets which Senate President Bukola Saraki and his wife, Toyin, are believed to hold through offshore shell companies in tax havens, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

Bukola and Toyin Saraki are being targeted by financial intelligence operatives for their “suspicious” use of offshore shell companies as uncovered in the Panama Papers investigation published in 2016, according to new records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with PREMIUM TIMES and other partners.

Investigators at the Seychelles Financial Intelligence Unit said they are interested in determining whether or not Mrs Saraki stood as a front for her husband in the ownership of some of the offshore holdings linked to the family when a trove of offshore assets managed by Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, was leaked to the media.
The investigators are also working to determine if the transactions undertaken with the shell companies were used to launder funds or carry out other suspicious activities.

Two weeks after the Sarakis were exposed as owning undeclared offshore assets in violation of Nigeria’s code of conduct regulations, detectives from that country’s FIU asked Mossack Fonseca to furnish them with all documents relating to Sandon Developments Ltd, a firm registered in Seychelles under Toyin Saraki’s name.

Mossack Fonseca responded to the request on April 29, 2018, by forwarding a link to the PREMIUM TIMES article on the Panama Papers as well as all documents relating to Sandon Ltd, including international passports and business activities.

The status of the investigation, however remained unclear as there is no record of any update about it since Mossack Fonseca responded to the authorities’ requests at the end of April 2016.

Mrs Saraki registered Sandon Ltd in 2011 and used it to buy a family property at #8 Whittaker Street, Belgravia, London SW1W 8JQ.

Mr Saraki denied links to the offshore assets in 2016, saying they belonged to his wife’s family. But information obtained by PREMIUM TIMES at the time indicated that the Senate President merely used his wife as a front, and Seychelles authorities also found the denial unconvincing.

The revelations were amongst the findings of a lengthy investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other global news organizations – including PREMIUM TIMES.

Politics

Weeks after justices protest, Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammad resigns

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Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has resigned.

Sources confirmed that Justice Muhammad resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.

Hint of potential crises in Nigeria’s judiciary played out last week when fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, lamenting the parlous state of affairs in the court.

The petition is the first-of-its-kind in the 58-year history of the apex court, the justices chronicled the operational challenges that have almost crippled the efficient adjudication of cases at the court.

Arrangements are said to be ongoing to swear in the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 suspended Justice Tanko’s predecessor Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. It was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule.

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18 years after suspension, Zimbabwe lobbys for readmission into Commonwealth

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Southern African Zimbabwe has continued with lobbying for readmission 18 years after it was thrown out of the body over allegations of human rights abuses.

The country made its latest move to be readmitted at the ongoing Commonwealth summit in Rwanda.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Rwanda Charity Manyeruke, who is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali as an observer alongside other top government officials, told newsmen that the country’s participation at the summit was a “positive development.”

“Zimbabwe is excited to be participating in Commonwealth forums as this presents opportunities to network with the international community taking into account the government of Zimbabwe’s policy of engagement and reengagement,” Ms Manyeruke said.

“The Commonwealth meeting in Kigali has provided opportunities for our Zimbabwean diaspora across the globe, who are participating as panellists, facilitators and as delegates in the forums.

Zimbabwe was first suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth for one year, after international observers condemned disputed presidential election as unfairly tilted toward Robert Mugabe in 2022.

One year after the suspension, Mr Mugabe revealed that he did not accept a Commonwealth decision to prolong Zimbabwe’s suspension from the group until the country mended its ways.

“Accordingly, Zimbabwe has withdrawn its membership from the Commonwealth with immediate effect,” said a government statement.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana said he had held meetings with influential people to discuss the country’s potential readmission.

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